closely as she cried. He began to feel horrible for everything that had
happened to her. True, she'd done some awful things in her attempt to
but to have everyone turn on her like they had.
"Oh, why did I listen to Momma?"
Stephanie said as she sobbed. Her back was to Patterson, so she didn't see
him standing in the doorway. "Why didn't I just forget about Reginald
like I'd tried to do? Why did I let her convince me that I had a chance?
Everyone hates me." She buried her head in her hands and cried.
"N-not everyone hates you." Patterson spoke up as he stepped onto
She snapped her head up and quickly dried her tears as she tried to pull
herself together. "What do you want?" she questioned coldly.
"Did you come out here to gloat, too? I know what you and all of your
friends think about me! I know you wanted Reginald with Jillian all along!
I bet you're pretty happy now that everyone seems to hate me."
"I don't hate you, Stephanie," he said softly as he walked over to
her. "I-in fact, I think I might have misjudged you."
"What?" She looked up at him in disbelief. She and
Patterson had never seen eye to eye on anything. They'd had more than
their fair share of run-ins over the years. "What are you up to?
I bet you're trying to find some other way to humiliate me!"
"No, that's the furthest thing from my mind." He knelt down
beside her on the ground and pulled out a handkerchief and gently began to wipe
her eyes. He couldn't help but laugh when he realized he wasn't doing a
very good job. "Here," he smiled as he handed the handkerchief
to her. "You can probably do it better than I can."
Stephanie wiped the last of her tears away and sighed. She folded her
legs under herself and tried to smooth out the long skirt of her gown as she
remained seated on the ground. "So, what do you want?"
"Um, well, actually, I was looking for Lorraine.
I came out here and saw you..." His voice trailed off as he examined
her closely. He shook his head slightly in disbelief. Was that
really a look of genuine innocence that he saw on her face? "Well,
let's just say that I think I've misjudged you. I don't think you're
really the heartless girl I once thought you were."
"Really?" She looked at him with cautious disbelief. He
had to be up to something.
"Granted, I think you tend to be a little misguided." He
laughed as he watched her nod her head impishly in agreement. "But
deep down, I think all you really want is someone to love you for you."
"Oh, my, yes! That's all I want! I thought I could have that
with Reginald, but that didn't work. Then I really thought I could have
that with Douglas,
but I ruined that because of Dane!"
"Steph, you've got to stop trying so many schemes and tricks."
He reached out and touched her lightly on the shoulder. "Stop trying
to force things. You've got to try to be a better, more honest person.
If you can do that, you can let the sweet girl you've got locked up
inside come out. That's when you're gonna find the love you crave."
Stephanie looked at him closely. Could he be telling her the truth?
Could she really find true love if she just stopping scheming to find it?